Eduard Tubin


Tubin was born in Torila
Torila is a village in Alatskivi Parish, Tartu County in eastern Estonia....

, Governorate of Livonia, Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

. Both his parents were music lovers, and his father played trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

 and trombone
The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player’s vibrating lips cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate...

 in the village band. His first taste of music came at school where he learned flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

 and balalaika
The balalaika is a stringed musical instrument popular in Russia, with a characteristic triangular body and three strings.The balalaika family of instruments includes instruments of various sizes, from the highest-pitched to the lowest, the prima balalaika, secunda balalaika, alto balalaika, bass...

. Later, his father swapped a cow for a piano, and the young Eduard soon became known in the village for his playing. Tubin was also somewhat accomplished as a violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

ist, and wrote two concerti and numerous chamber works for the instrument.

Tubin entered the Tartu
Tartu is the second largest city of Estonia. In contrast to Estonia's political and financial capital Tallinn, Tartu is often considered the intellectual and cultural hub, especially since it is home to Estonia's oldest and most renowned university. Situated 186 km southeast of Tallinn, the...

 Teacher's College in the newly independent Estonia in 1920. It was here he began to take an interest in composition. He married a fellow student, Linda Pirn, in 1930 and their son Rein was born in 1932. He took up work conducting in the 'Vanemuine' theatre. During this time he conducted and made several trips abroad, on one occasion meeting Zoltán Kodály
Zoltán Kodály
Zoltán Kodály was a Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, pedagogue, linguist, and philosopher. He is best known internationally as the creator of the Kodály Method.-Life:Born in Kecskemét, Kodály learned to play the violin as a child....

, who encouraged his interest in folk songs.

After the Soviet Union illegally annexed Estonia in 1944
Battle of Narva (1944)
The Battle of Narva was a military campaign between the German Army Detachment "Narwa" and the Soviet Leningrad Front fought for possession of the strategically important Narva Isthmus on 2 February – 10 August 1944 during World War II....

, Tubin fled to Stockholm, where he remained for the rest of his life, although he did return to Estonia on occasions. He was forced to take up whatever work came his way, although due to the large numbers of Estonian refugees in Sweden this often meant conducting choirs made up of Estonians. After a while Tubin moved to a suburb of Stockholm where he could devote himself entirely to composition. Here he wrote some of his greatest works, including much music for the choirs and symphonies 6-10. Towards the end of his life, Tubin slowly began to gain recognition, particularly after the conductor Neeme Järvi
Neeme Järvi
Neeme Järvi is an Estonian-born conductor.-Early life:Järvi studied music first in Tallinn, and later in Leningrad at the Leningrad Conservatory under Yevgeny Mravinsky, and Nikolai Rabinovich, among others...

, also an Estonian, escaped to the USA
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in 1980. In the last year of his life his Tenth Symphony was performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Boston Symphony Orchestra
The Boston Symphony Orchestra is an orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1881, the BSO plays most of its concerts at Boston's Symphony Hall and in the summer performs at the Tanglewood Music Center...

 (, and he received several awards from Swedish music organisations. He became ill in 1982 and remained in hospital until his death on November 17.


Tubin was influenced by Estonian folk music in his earlier works, including a Sinfonietta on Estonian motifs. In 1938 Tubin had visited the Estonian island of Hiiumaa
Hiiumaa is the second largest island belonging to Estonia. It is located in the Baltic Sea, north of the island of Saaremaa, a part of the West Estonian archipelago. Its largest town is Kärdla.-Name:...

 to collect folk songs. Tubin was also a very good orchestrator, and this can be heard particularly in the Third and Fourth symphonies.

A change took place in Tubin's style around the time of the sixth symphony; the music became harmonically more astringent. The finale of the seventh symphony makes much use of a theme with all twelve notes
Twelve-tone technique
Twelve-tone technique is a method of musical composition devised by Arnold Schoenberg...

, though it is tonal
Tonality is a system of music in which specific hierarchical pitch relationships are based on a key "center", or tonic. The term tonalité originated with Alexandre-Étienne Choron and was borrowed by François-Joseph Fétis in 1840...

. The shift to a less nationalistic and more international and angst-filled style came after Tubin had fled Estonia to Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 when the country was occupied by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....


Tubin is perhaps not better known because of his displacement. Although Estonia claims him as one of their greatest composers, during his lifetime most of his composing was done in Sweden, which never gave him the attention he was due. Tubin is gaining recognition, however, particularly for the Fourth and Eighth Symphonies and the Second Piano Sonata. Many of his works have been recorded (there are two complete recorded sets of his symphonies, conducted by Neeme Järvi
Neeme Järvi
Neeme Järvi is an Estonian-born conductor.-Early life:Järvi studied music first in Tallinn, and later in Leningrad at the Leningrad Conservatory under Yevgeny Mravinsky, and Nikolai Rabinovich, among others...

 and Arvo Volmer
Arvo Volmer
Arvo Volmer is an Estonian conductor.Volmer was principal conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra from 1993 to 2001. Since 2004 he has been music director of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and both music director and principal conductor of the Estonian National Opera in Tallinn...

) and in June 2005 the city of Tallinn
Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of with a population of 414,940. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list...

 observed the centennial of his birth with a festival where all of his symphonies and much of his piano and chamber music
Chamber music
Chamber music is a form of classical music, written for a small group of instruments which traditionally could be accommodated in a palace chamber. Most broadly, it includes any art music that is performed by a small number of performers with one performer to a part...

 was performed.

Selected works

  • Symphony No. 1 in C minor (1931–1934)
  • Symphony No. 2 in B minor "Legendary" (1937)
  • Symphony No. 3 in D minor "Heroic" (1940–1942, revised 1968)
  • Symphony No. 4 in A "Lyrical" (1943, revised 1978)
  • Symphony No. 5 in B minor (1946)
  • Symphony No. 6 (1953–1954, revised 1956) (first version premiered September 1955 by Tor Mann
    Tor Mann
    Tor Mann was a Swedish conductor.Mann was principal conductor of the Göteborgs Symfoniker from 1925 to 1939, and the Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester from 1939 to 1959....

  • Symphony No. 7 (1955–1958)
  • Symphony No. 8 (1965–1966)
  • Symphony No. 9 "Sinfonia semplice" (1969)
  • Symphony No. 10 (1973)
  • Symphony No. 11 (incomplete
    Unfinished symphony
    An unfinished symphony is a fragment of a symphony left by composers that are considered incomplete or unfinished for various reasons. The archetypal unfinished symphony is Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8, written in 1822, six years before his death. It features two fully orchestrated movements...

  • Suite on Estonian Themes (1929-30)
  • Toccata (1937)
  • Prelude Solennel (1940)
  • Sinfonietta on Estonian Motifs (1940)
  • Music for Strings (1962–1963)

  • Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major (1941–1942)
  • Concertino for Piano and Orchestra (1944–1945)
  • Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor (1945)
  • Double Bass Concerto (1948)
  • Balalaika Concerto (1963–1964)

Opera, ballet and choral works
  • Kratt, ballet in 4 acts (1938–1940, 2nd version 1940–1941, 3rd version 1959–1960); libretto E. Saarik
  • Inauguration Cantata for baritone, reciter, chorus and orchestra (1958)
  • Barbara von Tisenhusen, opera in 3 acts (1967–1968)
  • The Parson of Reigi (Reigi õpetaja), opera (1970–1971)
  • Requiem for Fallen Soldiers (1950, rev. 1979); text by Henrik Visnapuu
    Henrik Visnapuu
    Henrik Visnapuu was a well known Estonian poet and dramatist.-Life:Henrik Visnapuu first attended the village school in Reola and college in Sipe and the municipal school in Tartu...

     and Marie Under
    Marie Under
    Marie Under was one of the greatest Estonian poets.-Early life:...

Chamber music
  • Piano Sonata No.1 (1928)
  • Piano Sonata No. 2 "Northern Lights" (1950)
  • Violin Sonata No.1 (1934–1936, revised 1968–1969)
  • Capriccio No.1 for Violin and Piano (1937, revised 1971)
  • Pastorale for Viola and Organ (1956)
  • Viola Sonata (1964–1965)
  • Alto Saxophone Sonata (1951)
  • Piano Quartet in C minor (ETW 59, 1929-30)
  • String Quartet (ETW 64, 1979)

External links

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